By David N. Stamos
Examines Darwin's proposal of species in a philosophical context.
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Extra info for Darwin And the Nature of Species (S U N Y Series in Philosophy and Biology)
He then adds, with regard to the difficulty that the existence of permanent or true varieties posed for these naturalists, that “the difficulty is overcome by assuming that such varieties have strict limits, and can never again vary further from the original type, although they may return to it, which, from the analogy of the domesticated animals, is considered to be highly probable, if not certainly proved” (10–11). This law had an impressive pedigree. Linnaeus, for example, exhibited a belief in the law of reversion, along with the law of limited variation, in his Critica Botanica, first published in 1737, in which he wrote “every day new and different florists’ species arise from the true species so-called by Botanists, and when they have arisen they finally revert to the original forms.
2001, 376). Without the last clause, this passage has the power to mislead, as, for example, it did Poulton (1903, 91). Both parts together, however, help to determine a further important feature of Darwin’s mature species concept, as we shall see in Chapter 5. As a final piece of evidence that should suffice for the present, Darwin in one of his articles (1863b) calls it a “great truth,” regardless of evolutionary mechanisms, “that species have descended from other species and have not been created immutable” (81).
Burkhardt and Smith 1990, 309] In later chapters, after examining what I believe to be Darwin’s objective set of criteria for delimiting species taxa, only then will the disingenuous nature of these passages become apparent, especially when put in their context, and only then will it make sense to develop in detail a strategy theory to explain them (chapter 8). For the present, it will be useful to examine how reviewers of the Origin responded to the apparent species nominalism of that book. The first point to notice, using late 1859 and 1860 as typical, is that many if not most of the reviewers simply bypassed the issue of Darwin’s apparent species nominalism.